Finally, the Matthijs de Ligt Juventus Transfer is Complete
One of biggest transfer sagas of the summer has come to an end, with the 19-year-old Dutch phenom choosing the warm embrace of the Old Lady over many big clubs across Europe.
De Ligt enjoyed an incredible rise to the limelight this past year, captaining Ajax to an Eredivisie title, the Dutch Cup and a Champions League semifinal. With heavy interest from teams like Manchester United, PSG and Barcelona, he ultimately chose the Italian job, likely to get the chance to work with Cristiano Ronaldo and some incredible defenders.
De Ligt was one of the highest profile players — possibly even the highest — available on the market. With his former teammate Frenkie De Jong agreeing to move to FC Barcelona in the winter window and arriving in Spain recently, it seemed likely his friend would follow.
But, after the UEFA Nations League final, Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to approach him and had a speculative, yet seemingly convincing conversation about joining the Italian champions. Who wouldn’t have loved to listen in on that conversation?
Is De Ligt the Missing Piece?
So, why will this signing boost Juve’s Champions League hopes? Well, for one, Juve lacked shape last year against Ajax in both the quarterfinal legs.
In the game which confirmed Juventus’ exit, it was especially evident with Giorgio Chiellini out due to injury. He has been a mainstay in defense and has been incredible with Juve, but time isn’t on his side and it’s starting to show.
With Andrea Barzagli now retired and Daniele Rugani still prone to errors and slipups, Matthijs de Ligt will be able to learn alongside some great old-school defenders. He could also end up teaching his teammates how to keep up with a faster paced, more modern game of football.
Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Rugani are all Italians, through and through, and they are used to a more tactical, slow-paced approach and opposition. Under Maurizio Sarri, their style will likely be changing a bit, and De Ligt can definitely be a player to help with that transition, as he is used to the idea of entertaining football, or Sarriball, now at Juventus.
The Dutchman is better in some major categories that could help edge out the competition in Europe. In passing accuracy, clearances, interceptions and aerials, he is better than what would be considered the top three defenders at Juventus (Bonucci, Rugani and Chiellini). On top of all this, De Ligt is better in the air when looking for goals.
While Bonucci can knock in some good goals, Rugani and Chiellini had only three combined — the amount that De Ligt scored in both the Champions League and the Eredivisie. De Ligt knows how to score big goals (case and point his goal against Juve in the quarterfinals).
In April, Matthijs de Ligt scored the goal that knocked Juventus out of the Champions League pic.twitter.com/LtFdpLj52u— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 26, 2019
If you got the chance to watch him at all this past season, you know Juventus got a good one. Joining on a five-year deal and including a rumored release clause of $170 million just seems smart business.
He stands at 6-2 and has been with his boyhood club, Ajax, since age 11, earning his senior debut during the 2016-17 season. The video of him leading his club's chants at age 17 still comes to mind when you think about the amount of character the player has. He is a natural born leader, and it isn’t hard to see.
Along with his leadership is his presence. It can be seen and almost felt through the TV the way he directs and helps his other defenders. He can be seen communicating with his teammates throughout any match, no matter winning or losing, making sure they stay focused.
You could throw him into nearly any defense and he would bring an aura of calmness and almost certainly improve whoever is around him. He is much like his national team partner in defense, Virgil Van Dijk, in that respect, and he has plenty of time to reach Van Dijk's levels and maybe even go beyond them.
As mentioned earlier, his height aids him well in the air, both in defense and on set pieces. While he can handle his own in the air, it’s his passing that elevates him to a next-level defender. Averaging a pass completion rate of more than 90 percent last season in the league, he can be just as lethal with his passing ability when going up field as he is intelligent when defending his goal.
Lastly, there’s his positioning. He reads the game well and always seems to know where to be and when to be there. He does go up field quite a bit but never loses sight of where his other defenders and the opposing attackers are, in case he needs to get back to cover or make a big tackle.
With all these qualities at the age of 19, you've got a certified star ready to take his chance and lead his new team to more glory.
Juventus bought Cristiano Ronaldo last summer in one of the most ambitious transfers in history. It was an attempt to get their hands on the Champions League trophy, and it didn’t quite work out. They got knocked out by a side that seemed hungrier and more clinical than the Italian side.
One of the men at the heart of that defeat for Juventus was Matthijs de Ligt. So, if you can’t beat them, buy them so they can't beat you anymore!
As long as he stays healthy, this phenom could go on to achieve an incredible amount of success at Juventus. At such a young age, this might turn out to be one of the most expensive bargains money has bought (should Juventus complete their quest for Champions League glory once again).
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